Newbie questions about upgrading my PC

Discussion in 'Computers' started by BrettL, Jul 17, 2006.

  1. BrettL

    BrettL Auditioning

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    Quick computer stats:

    *OS: XP Home (SP2)
    *Pentium 4: 3.00 GHz
    *2 GB of Ram
    *Monitors: (Just ordered) Dell UltraSharp 2407WFP 24-inch Widescreen Flat Panel LCD Monitor (w/ DVI-D) & currently using 17 inch CRT
    *Sound Card: SoundBlaster Audigy
    *Speakers: Not worth mentioning


    I just replaced the power supply in my computer in anticipation of adding a new graphics card. I replaced my 250W with a BFG 650W with dual PCI Express Connectors and Dual 12V rails. This is probably more power than I need but I figured what the heck. My current video card is a nVidia GeForce FX 5200 AGP and I am thinking of switching to the ATI All-In-Wonder X800 XT Video Card, 8x AGP, 256MB DDR (I have 3 PCI slots, but I'm not sure if they are PCI Express so I think I'm going with an AGP card). I'm hoping to be able to watch TV and play games on the Dell 24 inch LCD Monitor and work on applications on the 17 inch CRT at the same time. The ATI All-In-Wonder has a DVI-I out but I've searched and there appears to be an adaptor that will allow me to connect the ATI All-In-Wonder (DVI-I) to the Dell 24 inch LCD Monitor (DVI-D). So here are my questions:

    1: Will I be able to watch HDTV with the proposed setup? (I have Charter HD)
    2: Will I be able to use both monitors at the same time with the ATI All-In-Wonder?
    3: Should I get a separate video card and TV tuner for better performance?
    4: How can I tell if a have a mothorboard that supports PCI express?

    Sorry for all of the questions, but I don't won't to buy a bunch of components that will not achieve the desired effect. I'll hold off on the sound card and speaker questions until later.

    Any comments are welcome, Thanks.
     
  2. Joe D

    Joe D Supporting Actor

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    If your current video card uses the AGP interface, you have the AGP interface on your motherboard and not a PCI-Express x 16 interface.

    I don't know about the rest.
     
  3. Glenn Overholt

    Glenn Overholt Producer

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    Joe is correct. If you have AGP on your board you probably don't have PCI Express. What kind of a board do you have?

    Also, if you are going to have two video cards, then you have to be sure that one of them won't have to be the "primary" card. Some cards, and I think the 800 is among them, must be in the "first" slot.

    You could have an "AGP" primary card and a PCI as a secondary one, but if you plan on watching TV on your widescreen, then the games would be on your CRT, which would be PCI. Is that what you want?"

    Maybe you need a new motherboard! (sorry!) They do have them out with multimple PCI Express slots now. Also, some games don't work well on a WS monitor. I think I'd rather have the games on the 'primary' slot, but then you'd be needing a PCI (slot) card that would work as a secondary - and work on your WS monitor.

    Glenn
     
  4. Rommel_L

    Rommel_L Second Unit

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    What is the model of the mobo?
     
  5. Kimmo Jaskari

    Kimmo Jaskari Screenwriter

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    AGP and PCIe on one board is rare. Heck, rare... I've never seen it, and there seems little justification for such a board since PCIe is an AGP successor, so you almost certainly have AGP only and normal PCI slots.

    If HDTV is a consideration, you'll probably want a graphics card that can offload the video processing. The laptop I'm writing this on has a core duo CPU and an ATI X1400 graphics adapter and it can play 1080i material smoothly - something my 3 GHz Pentium 4-based PC with an older Radeon 9800 can't. In fact, it chokes on H.264 based 720p. The difference is almost certainly the H.264 decoding being done by ATI's Avivo on the X1400, and Avivo is only available on the X1x00 series as far as I know.

    Since you're in the throes of upgrading anyway, consider looking around for a PCIe motherboard that can re-use your old components (memory, CPU etc). That will give you a much wider area of high-performance cards to choose from.

    Most graphics cards should also come with two graphics connectors, so you can run two monitors off one card. That should make it possible to view TV on one monitor while working on the other.
     
  6. BrettL

    BrettL Auditioning

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    Thanks for all of the replies. I looked up my computer at Gateway and here are some motherboard specs:

    1. Universal 0.8 V / 1.5 V AGP 3.0 connector supporting 1X, 4X, and 8X AGP cards or an ADD card
    2. Intel 865G Chipset, consisting of: Intel 82865G GMCH , Intel 82801EB ICH5
    4-Mb FWH
    3. Three PCI bus add-in card connectors (SMBus routed to PCI bus connector 2)

    So obviously I don't have PCI Express. So I guess my choice's are to get the AGP ATI All-In-Wonder X800 XT or use a different video card in the AGP slot and Tv Tuner / PVR multimedia card in one of the 2 open PCI slots (one of my PCI slots holds my soundblaster audigy card). Which would you guys do?
     
  7. Glenn Overholt

    Glenn Overholt Producer

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    Cash in those US Savings Bonds! (You're going to need them)! [​IMG]

    No, seriously - I'd wait. Get your Dell going and see what it can do, and can't, first.

    Like Kimmo said, AGP is on its way out now. (I think AGP went as high as 8X, but PCI-E goes to 16X). Look into what is acceptable as a 2nd video card too. Also, ATI makes an HDTV card now too, with both HDTV and regular coax inputs on a PCI slot. With that, you wouldn't have to worry about a 2nd compatible video card.

    Glenn
     
  8. Joe D

    Joe D Supporting Actor

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  9. BrettL

    BrettL Auditioning

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    Thanks again for the input. It sounds like my best bet is to go with the ATI All-In-Wonder X800 XT.
     
  10. BrettL

    BrettL Auditioning

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    Quick update:

    I installed the ATI All-In-Wonder X800 XT AGP with out much problem. I loaded up Doom3 at the ultrahigh settings for a few minutes through my CRT and I was amazed at how much better this card is compared to my nVidia GeForce FX 5200 AGP. It took a little time to get the cable TV to play on the monitor but eventually I figured it out. The Dell UltraSharp 2407WFP 24-inch Widescreen Flat Panel LCD Monitor (w/ DVI-D) is being delivered today so I can finally run 2 screens at once.

    I do have a couple of questions. Since I've added a the ATI card and upgraded the power supply (250w to 650w), should I add an extra fan or cooling device? The BFG 650W power supply actually has a button that activates a fan on it, but what about the rest of the computer?

    Thanks
     

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